Crossover Wooden Bridge Restoration Project
If you have travelled along Bloomfield Road you may have glimpsed a hidden treasure among the tall trees. Did you know there is a relic of Crossover history nestled in the forest?
This old timber bridge at Crossover was reportedly constructed in 1892 as part of the Warragul to Noojee rail link. In 1958 that rail line closed after decades of transporting timber, farm produce, local passengers and occasional tourists. This bridge is supported by six tall trestles and spans about forty metres of ferny cutting below. A commitment has been made by Crossover locals to explore the feasibility of restoring the historic trestle bridge in their forest.
Nearly all of the many trestle bridges along the line have been destroyed by bushfires over the years. Some rumoured that anxious road transporters possibly sabotaged these bridges. Nevertheless, the Crossover Road bridge survived and is in its original condition being the last of its kind left in Victoria. In contrast, the famous trestle bridge at Noojee has been renovated and maintained.
Since the rail closure, the Crossover bridge has been in gentle decline due to neglect and lack of maintenance. Many of the decking timbers are rotting, yet many of the uprights appear strong and stable. The bridge has considerable artistic, engineering and tourist merit. One fascinating aspect is the picket style safety railing (see more images here). There is also the depth of the fern lined, steep cutting below, along which the trains laboured.
The bridge sits on Crown Land within land under Parks Victoria management. It is listed with Heritage Victoria, and the National Estate, to historians it symbolises the development of early transport routes in West Gippsland. The design is said to typify construction methods and details found in many trestle road bridges of the day. All restoration work will be undertaken using the Australia ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites), the peak body of professionals working in heritage conservation guidelines. These are explained in the Burra Charter adopted as a revised document in November 1999 at the ICOMOS annual meeting.
RCFG is advocating for the bridge to be restored, both for the historic value of the structure and the improved access a restored bridge would provide to users of the rail trail.
A restoration project will require a partnership with Parks Vic, Baw Baw Shire, funding providers and community to secure funds and deliver the project. Discussions are on-going.